From residential school to Saskatchewan legislature: Meet Betty Nippi-Albright


Betty Nippi-Albright took the riding of Saskatoon Centre for the NDP in the Oct. 26 provincial election. Photo: Facebook

There were two provincial elections in the last week – one in British Columbia and the other in Saskatchewan.

Between the two there were 148 seats up for grabs.

But, out of that, only four First Nations people was elected.

In Saskatchewan the lone successful candidate was Betty Nippi-Albright, who is the MLA-elect for Saskatoon Centre.

Nippi-Albright is Cree and Saulteaux from the Kinistin Saulteaux Nation in Saskatchewan.

“This is a big win for Indigenous people,” she said on Nation to Nation.

But it’s also a big win for her, and her family.

“Growing up in residential school, growing up in poverty, facing racism, facing racism in the employment sector … I have faced a lot of obstacles in my life,” Nippi-Albright said

When faced with the idea of running for politics she was reluctant but then looked at the faces of her grandchildren.

“I have grandchildren that have darker skin than I do and I thought if I don’t step up, because I do have a voice, if I don’t step up my granddaughters, and my grandchildren, are going to have to do this hard work of facing an uphill battle,” she said.

Nippi-Albright may be in Saskatchewan but she, and all Indigenous Peoples, have new ally according to Annamie Paul, the new leader of the federal Green party.

Paul placed second in the federal by-election of Toronto Centre, a Liberal stronghold.

In fact, if the NDP didn’t run a candidate, like the Green party did for NDP leader Jagmeet Singh a couple years ago, she may have won.

None of that matters to Paul.

“I didn’t expect any favours and I didn’t ask for any,” she said.

Paul said her campaign was “from the heart.”

She plans to wait and see where she will run next, however sees her role as leader includes being ally for Indigenous people, particularly when it comes to systemic racism.

“Our two communities are by far the most disproportionally, and negatively-affected, by systemic racism in our criminal justice system and we are just not involved enough,” said Paul.

A school bus is being used to block a road in Caledonia. Photo: Brett Forester/APTN.

Finally, Nation to Nation spoke APTN’s reporter on the ground in Caledonia, Brett Forester, where a dispute has dragged on for several months.

But it began long before that.

“Many of these land surrenders they believe to have been outright theft, or illegal surrenders, that they continue to dispute to this day,” said Forester.

Catch all the interviews below.

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly said only one First Nations person was elected between the two provinces. We apologize for the error.

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